Western Sandpiper
(Calidris mauri)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (flickr.com/photos/jukka_jantunen)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

One of the Western Hemisphere’s most abundant shorebirds, nearly the entire population of Western Sandpiper passes through stopover sites in coastal British Columbia during spring and fall migration, while migrating between nesting areas in western Alaska and southern Siberia, and overwintering areas from Washington to Peru. These stopover sites are of critical importance; Canada has, therefore, a very high responsibility for conservation of this species. Results from the Christmas Bird Count suggest that the abundance of Western Sandpiper has remained relatively unchanged since 1970. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Critically imperiled2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada> 1,000,000 adults (includes birds breeding and migrating within Canada)

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Seasonal visitor

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery High

Conservation and management

The Western Sandpiper uses a short-flight migratory strategy whereby successful movement along the coast depends on the presence of a series of intertidal wetland habitats along the entire migration route (Iverson et al. 1996). Consequently, range-wide concerns for this species centre on the identification, availability, and protection of important stopover and wintering areas. Degradation and loss of habitat, especially from the draining and conversion of wetlands at wintering and migration stopover sites, are major threats to the Western Sandpiper (Franks et al. 2014). Climate change may also play a significant role by affecting population dynamics; the timing of spring onset and ocean productivity are critical for successful migration and breeding success (O’Hara et al. 2007). Western Sandpipers are particularly vulnerable to a mismatch in the timing of breeding with seasonal peaks in food abundance (Franks et al. 2014).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other